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Twenty Ways To Save On Your Computer System

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Sandi Jerome - Also by this author

Your dealership’s computer system is often the most expensive outside service that you pay monthly. Here are twenty ways to save money on your computer system and get more value for the dollars you are spending.

1. Compare your monthly billing to your original contract. It is not unusual to be billed for items you never agreed to or for the amount to be higher than your contract allows.

2. Watch your upgrade costs. Make sure you really need to upgrade your system before locking the dealership into five more years of the same technology.

3. Train your employees. Most computer companies only provide training during the installation. Invest in a regular training program – at least on report generators for your employees.

4. Don’t lease your computer system. The computer companies often charge a 10 percent buyout fee – that’s not a residual – instead you’re paying for 10 percent of the system twice.

5. Don’t put all your training days during the installation. This is the worst time to train your employees – try to allocate some of those training days for six months after the install.

6. Drop the monthly support on software you’re not using. Typically, you have to give sixty days notice to your computer vender, but it’s better than wasting five years of support costs on applications you don’t use.

7. Log off those manufacturer systems. Some factory communication systems charge based on how long you’re connected. Make sure employees know to log off after locates and mailbox retrievals.

8. Get your drive space guaranteed during purchase. Buying a bigger hard drive can be expensive – and deleting customers can cost you even more money. Make sure the contract provides that the drive that you buy will last for the term on the contract without having to delete customer.
9. Clean up your database. Get rid of customers with no names (just spaces or “zzzz”) and remove deal records of customers who you dealer traded or wholesaled vehicles to.

10. Prevent duplicates in your database. Make sure you reuse control numbers (multiple sales to one customer should use the same control number.)

11. Drop the monthly support on certain hardware like terminals and slave printers. After a few months, you will have enough saved to purchase new replacement equipment and replace it yourself.

12. Return your tapes. The computer companies charge a high tape charge if you don’t return them. Don’t pay high postage; send them at book rate to save more money.

13. Don’t print so many copies of forms. Just look in the trash can, car deals, and other files and you’ll see the wasted copies. Set up the print specifications to print less copies and order 2-ply forms instead of 3 or 4-ply whenever possible.

14. Shop your consumables. You can usually purchase ribbons, toner, paper, and other computer supplies locally for less money – and you’ll keep local dollars in your community.

15. Eliminate after hours support. Make sure you know the hours that the computer company charges a premium charge for after hours support and try to have an employee field those calls – or get the hours adjusted in your next contract.

16. Compare your monthly support costs with other dealers. This is a great 20-group exercise – just bring all your support bills to a meeting and share with your fellow dealers. Our company will moderate this meeting.

17. Store long-term on a PC instead of your in-house system. Move your customer database onto a PC before the computer company trims it to make more hard drive space. Our company specializes in this function.

18. Avoid T&M. Time and materials charges can happen because your computer is too difficult for the technician to work on (often because it’s up against a wall or in a difficult location.)

19. Get better utilization. If you’re paying 100 percent of your monthly support costs, why only use 35 percent? Learn what else your computer can do for you and start using that remaining 65 percent.

20. Use your support line. Why not teach employees how to call the computer company for support? You’re paying a lot for that service – you should use it instead of making all calls go through one person (who might be too busy.)

I hope these twenty ways are a good start to saving money on your computer system. I didn’t mention my favorite – which is to stop ordering those expensive financial statements. If your factory sends you a nice printed copy a few days after you transmit the statement, then why buy those expensive forms. Just purchase the overlays and print on blank paper. The photocopy will due until you have your nice printed copy.

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